tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN January 23, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
laughing at us. does he believe that all of these negotiations and agreements inherently zero sum? and do other countries have to take a back seat? or can agreements be truly win-win? >> look, the president believes we can have truly win-win agreements. america first is not america alone. i said in my remarks, when we grow, the world grows. when the world grows, we grow. we're part of it. we're part of a world economy and the president believes that. he is going to talk on world leaders about making sure we all respect each other. we all abide by the laws. we all have free, fair, open and reciprocal trade. if we live in a world where there are not artificial barriers, we will all grow and we will all help each other grow. the president truly believes. that he went to the g-7. to the g-20. to nato. he went to apec, to the u.n.
he's talked about these positions consistently and this is exactly what the president will talk about at the world economic forum. >> general mcmaster, there will be reports recently that leaders, authoritarian leaders in other countries, particularly in southeast asia, are using one of the president's favorite phrases, fake news to describe reporting that isn't flattering and it reflects poorly on their country and it reports invent truths. president trump has made a point of not publicly talking about things like human rights and freedom of speech, freedom of expression. is he concerned at all? or are you concerned that the president's rhetoric are combined with his silence on
these issues is creating a climate where authoritarian leaders, they have free reign to do what they want and the united states will not -- >> welcome to "the lead." we'll break away from the white house press briefing and we'll continue to monitor and bring you any updates. we're learning the two major key players have been interviewed by special counsel robert mueller's russia investigators, james comey was and jeff sessions was as well. saying that comey spoke to investigators last year and "the new york times" report said that comey was specifically asked about policemen owes he wrote about his interactions with president trump. sources are also telling cnn that attorney general jeff sessions was questioned for several hours last week by special counsel robert mueller's office. marking the closest member of the trump administration. the most inner member of the circle to be interviewed by the special counsel as part of the
investigation into russian election meddling. and then on the question of whether the president or anyone obstructed justice in the investigation. breaking news just in right now. the "washington post" is reporting that special counsel mueller is seeking to question president trump in the coming weeks that his decisions to fire comey and fire the national security adviser, michael flynn. my political panel is here with me to talk about all of this. "the new york times" is reporting that comey was asked about the policemen owes he wrote about the conversations with the president. i support potentially this is part of a potential obstruction of justice investigation. >> which has always steamed me the more likely thing they land on. or find some more convincing evidence of. it is getting closer to the president. i am pleased at this point, someone has sustain memos. we've been talking about them for eight months, a year, and no
one has actually seen them yet so that will be nice. and i wonder will if comey is as emo in his interviews as he is on twitter. >> what do you make of the "washington post" report that mueller is seeking to interview president trump in the coming weeks? that's something, we've gotten mixed messages from the president about it. first an absolute willingness, 100% to participate and then more of an am i have abob am bi. i don't think it is a surprise to anyone that director mueller will want to talk to the president. he looked across the table at jim comey. i'm not surprise that had anyone thinks he would want to do the same with the president. i'm not his counsel. i don't think the president has anything to hide and it is up to his counsel and there is a lot of things to deal with the role of the presidency. not just donald trump citizen
involved in this. so i'm not, executive privilege and this is the executive branch interviewing the executive branch. it is a much bigger issue than just donald trump talking to bob mueller. >> and one of the things that's interesting, i was listening to cnn today, a trump supporter talking about what he would do were everyone of the president's lawyers. and one of them was, one of the key bits of advice was, don't speak with hyperbole. don't speak in a braggadocious manner as president trump uses that quite a bit. answer the questions honestly. and succinctly. >> it will be interesting to see donald trump be able to do that. >> i don't think we'll see it. >> well, it will be interesting to hear, or however that goes. but i think donald trump does have something to hide. we know that he fired comey. he admitted it himself because comey was getting too close to the russia thing.
he was trying to protect flynn. and i think what's interesting about all this is how far mueller has come. right? donald trump and sessions fired comey to protect flynn and now mueller has basically talked to flynn who, as we all know, has been indicted and pleaded guilty. he has spoken to sessions and to comey. it that says a lot. it makes sense -- >> i'm not sure i ever thought he wasn't going to talk to those people. what exactly would the investigation be? >> but it happened really quickly. >> i guess. the word from the beginning was this would be efficient. >> we just found out. >> kind of what you're saying. so your narrative is that the president fired comey because he was getting too close to the russia thing. right? and here we are again, right? there is no russia thing. if there was a russia thing and it involved general flynn he wouldn't have been let off the whook basically a speeding
ticket. >> to be -- you can't have it both ways. >> to be precise, what the president said was he was thinking about the russia thing when he fired comey. and i think you're projecting some motivation there. but also a fact check. we also don't know. we have no idea. >> we don't know at the time. >> we don't know what mueller has. we don't know if there is something there or if there isn't. >> i would suspect, from what you've been seeing, at the end of the day, russia comes out to be what we've seen already, involving mr. manafort, mr. gates, some of the other individuals. >> donald trump jr. >> some others have been charged. and the more serious thing they're looking into are the firing of and many that will be looked into. there is no, if the democrats are hanging their hoot some big
russian collusion. >> what we do have is a year of leaks that has not brought us to a could not gloogs collusion and the leaks have not exactly been restrained. >> but four people have been indicted that were close to donald trump. so i think -- >> that's what we have. that is not a nothing burger. >> two were indicted for lying to the fbi about contacts with rush. >> but that is completely different than saying that those individuals then somehow coordinated an ongoing campaign with the russians to help tip the election in favor of donald trump. what those gentlemen have been charged with is lying to the fbi. >> there's a lot of room between shady and reckless which is what i think the trump team often is. what the democrats -- hold on. and what i think the democrats' fantastic of what happened with the russia thing. >> let's talk about what we do
know beyond the -- let's talk about what we know with the collusion and about potential obstruction of justice. in terms of collusion, we know according to the u.s. intelligence community, the russians hacked and got a bunch of dnc e-mails from john podesta. we know russian cut-outs made offers to trump people. and three, we know a bunch of trump people expressed interest in the dirt. and we don't know, we have no proof or evidence at all that they ever coordinated. but all the dirt got out there on wikileaks. >> but last part. we have no proof, the collusion part. that's what they're trying to prove. >> it's not nothing. >> it's not nothing. and there is the obstruction of justice. that's on the table as well. >> we'll get to that. >> that's the big leap. you go from, you have these facts and then something bad happened. well, there's no factual nexus between those twoe.
nothing has been proven. nothing even articulated. >> one of the big things happens in washington, d.c., it is not the crime, it's the cover-up. with bill clinton with monica lewinsky, it was suborning perjury. whatever was done with michael flynn ends up being more of a problem than whatever might have happened with the russians. >> yes. and again it has to hit the threshold which is the only point we're making. i have long thought that what might get them in trouble before the idea of this russian collusion, which i don't think there is a ton of there, there, when they're speaking to different folks, sometimes under oath, the folks in this administration are not always pristine in their sxlang their presentation. perhaps sometimes sloppy or reckless with the truth. >> and you will see that we
didn't even know dpaps existed. >> as the guy who works on the campaign, neither did i. >> i did work on the campaign and i will tell you, until i read it in the newspaper, i didn't know who he was. >> as you know, one of the things about papadopoulos is that he was approached by a professor who had contacts with the kremlin. and this person in march or i am a of 2016 saying we have dirt on hillary clinton and he expressed an interest. we don't know of any evidence that it went beyond the conversations. >> right. the person who sngs robert mueller. he is the one in charge of this. he is leading this and he will get the answers to all of his questions. >> hopefully. >> but there is a question here. what is it that donald trump is trying to hide? what is it? because there's clearly
somethin something. comey is fired. flynn is fired. now we're hearing a story about the new fbi director, it is reported that he was forced to fire some of his senior staff. >> he was pressured. >> if you look at the reports of how that came about. he wasn't pressured. it says, the report, the axios report which all of this is based on says the president never spoke directly -- >> no. >> it was via sessions. it was sessions. >> and the president tweeted. >> right but the president has tweeted a lot. >> when you get a new job, you can staff it how you like. that's not unusual in this town. >> but the fbi director seems to be getting pressure to not do that. i'm just saying it is being reported. >> we're going to get to that in a moment. jim sciutto will have that in a moment. the idea that mueller wants to
question president trump about the flynn departure. i understand why he would want to talk to him about the comey departure. the question is, did you fire him so as to stop the investigation in any way? that sounds to me, i'll not a lawyer, that sounds something-ish like approaching obstruction of justice. but then why would he want to talk about the flynn departure? >> isn't that just about going to bat for flynn? the two would go together, it would seem to me. >> pressure on who? on flynn? >> to let flynn off the hook when he was having that conversation. i want to bring in the cnn chief national correspondent jim sciutto right now, who has some news about the "washington post" report. this comes after, as we know, mueller and his team interviewed both fbi director james comey, the former director james comey,
and of course attorney general jeff sessions. >> it makes it clear that it is the obstruction of justice. clearly they are taking this line of investigation very seriously. he's interviewing all the key players. james comey who was fired, attorney general jeff sessions in charming of the justice department. it looks like the line of questioning to the "washington post," also zeroing in as well. >> cnn has learned that the attorney general interviewed jeff sessions. the first member of trump's cabinet to be questioned and the former fbi director james comey. comey was asked about memos he wrote about list interactions with the president before being fired. there according to the "new york times" which first reported on the interview that took place late last year. >> sessions who was questioned last week is the 15th current or former trump administration official to be interviewed, the mueller probe.
today president said he is not worried about sessions meeting with mueller's team. >> topics of sessions' questioning likely included meddling in the election and crucially, what bengals the president's decision to fire comey. a matter that mueller is investigating for obstruction of justice, according to a source close to sessions. >> i made a list of about eight things, if i were mueller, i would want to speak to sessions about. and obstruction is surely one of them and perhaps foremost among them, how did it come to pass that comey was asked for loyalty. how did it come to pass that comey was fired? >> new questions are being raised about the trump administration's interference with law enforcement. fbi director christopher wray was pressured, according to a source familiar with the investigation. >> that's one more example of this administration. the president and through his
agent, the attorney general, trying interfere in the fbi's ability to follow the law and help with the investigation into the russian interference of elections and the possible collusion of the trump administration or trump campaign. >> sessions mentioned the bureau's deputy director andrew mckab and the top lawyer, james baker herself to it is not clear if he explicitly told wray to fire or reassign them. baker was reassigned last year. write a threatened to quit if mckam mccabe was reassigned. >> if the president asks you to do something unlawful or unethical, what do you say? >> first i would try to talk him out of it. if that failed, i would resign. >> still president trump told reporters in the oval office today that wray did not threaten to resign. >> he didn't at all. he did not even a little bit. nope. >> the president has repeatedly
blasted the fbi, tweeting in december after years of qum the phony and dishonest clinton investigation and more, running the fbi, its reputation is in tatters. worst in history. fear not, we will bring it back to greatness. >> to be clear, inside the fbi that criticism is not received well. it hits hard. flynn according to the "washington post" is part of the line of questioning, that's interesting. we should not forget that flynn has pled guilty to a federal crime and it is now believed he is cooperating with mueller. >> so that's the christopher wray reporting about replacing the number two. what's interesting, we don't have to wait for any explosive expose of any secret meeting where president trump made it clear that he wanted mccabe fired.
he's been tweeting it for several months. his wife ran for the state legislature in the commonwealth of virginia. she got a lot of help from the former governor terry mcauliffe who is friends with the clintons and for that reason there's been a lot of impugning of his character and whether or not he was compromised. but it is interesting that wray was pressured, according to our reporting, pressured to fire mccabe and he said no. you'll have to fire me first. and then sessions backed off. >> right. and it is a sign that he is probably in the right position. trump picked him and i appreciate that. this whole thing, as you were saying, what is there to hide? i think all of this is often consistent with him reacting to a personal affront as the president does and overbrought at times and sometimes ways that may lead him down the path to obstruction of justice. but it can be explained as consistent with that as he thinks he is the guy who messed up the hillary clinton thing and
he's mad at him and lashes out personally. >> we should point out, there is a controversy going on right now. a legitimate one about whether or not people who were in the fbi had a bias against president trump. this text message from the hoagt who was reassigned, saying negative things. you would agree it doesn't look good when the president tweets nasty stuff about mccabe and firing him. >> let's go back bit. the fbi, part of the thin blue line here. the fbi agents all across america and the world put their line on the lives to protect americans every day. so i think we need to stop for a second and remember that. just like the diplomats and soldiers and firefighters and first responders, these froeks out there protecting our liberty every day. so we get caught up in painting an entire agency with a broad
brush. that's kind of tough. you have to be careful about doing that with the presidency as well, right? in terms of the tweets. the individual e-mails back and forth and the secret society, don't worry if he gets electricitiey elected. it fuels the confidence in the bureau which is a shame because they are out front in law enforcement. >> they're both incredibly dedicated public servants in the fbi and it is a federal agency that sometimes indulges in abuses of power. these things can both be true and we have an i.g. looking into it. you remember ted stevens. >> and i want to come back to this conversation but we have this story. we'll get back to this in a second. now, a cnn analyst, josh,
welcome. thanks for joining us. what are the terms being negotiated for this interview? it is a very difficult process. >> sure. so my colleague and i just reported that president trump's lawyers have been in touch with mueller's teem several different issues. they want to question the president on the firing of mike flynn and the firing of jim comey. and the negotiations include whether this part of interview can be in writing, which part will be videotaped but they want to it happen soon. there is an intensifying focus on the obstruction part of probe and the president's actions with regard to the firings. they've begun asking witnesses about the repeated efforts tow oust jeff sessions as attorney general. there were multiple efforts to get him to resign. a republican smear campaign. a lot of pressure from president trump's allies. and mueller's team is questioning, why is that so? >> how close might mueller be to sitting down with president
trump? are we talking about months, weeks, days? >> a lot of it depends on the negotiations with president trump's lawyers. we're expecting those to begin and increase as soon as next week. and then after that, you're seeing they reported in the "new york times," they interviewed jeff sessions. they're wrapping up some of the key figures in the probe. and we're expecting president trump's interview could be before too long. >> what are the biggest sticking points? time recorded? videotaped? whether there are notes, under oath? what exactly are they discussing? >> i think all the above. one of the president's comfort dantes, people close to him are saying it could be a perjury trap. to be very careful about an interview. we reported roger stone today, saying it would be a suicide watch to be interviewed with mueller. so it depends what the president wants and what he's willing to agree. to it is hard to imagine such a probe would end, like the hillary clinton probe, would end
without talking to the president. but what the terms are remains to be seen. >> do you think they're focusing entirely on obstruction if the only subjects they want to talk to the president about are the firing of flynn and the firing of comey? that would suggest they're not interested in talking about, you know, the meeting in trump tower with donald trump jr., et cetera, the meeting with george papadopoulos, et cetera. >> our reports are that the main two buckets mueller has said they want to ask trump about are those two firings and the events that preceded and followed those twoe different events. the flynn firing early and the comey firing later he that spring. and they've indicated to the president's lawyers, john dowd, ty cobb, those are the two things they would want to lead the question with. >> do you think the signals, i'm trying to look at how this was done with previous high profile
individuals like hillary clinton. she was interviewed, i believe, july 4th weekend, 2016. and not long after it wrapped up. do you think that this signals that the mueller probe is wrapping up? >> i want to be careful in not saying what we don't know. a lot of reporting is still to be done. in previous cases, the interview of the main subject has been near the end of the probe. they continue to interview folks and one of the things they tell us is that they're getting a wealth of information that can lead them to new places. i think it would be a bit presumptuous saying just because they're interviewing the president means probe would immediately end afterwards. >> and we were discussing this. when george papadopoulos whrgs his name appeared in that legal document in the plea deal, it was a surprise to us. because he was somebody about whom we knew very little. wasn't a focus for the people
covering the story. how much are you expecting the same time of result when and if mueller actually makes his next move? that it will be something we don't -- we saw manafort coming a mile away. how much are you expecting that we will be surprised? the mueller team does have a pretty good reputation for not leaking. a lot of the leaks people see in the papers and from other channels are from lawyers and people around the investigation. not the investigators themselves. >> you make good point. we saw the manafort indictment coming, or they told us they were expecting it. they were not expecting the papadopoulos indictment. and i think white house officials i've spoken to were surprised by some of the details they learned in the flynn plea deal. so i think saying what we know from mueller is hard to know. we've been able to track, based on the questions he's asking, talking to people in and around the investigation. we've been able to get hints of what he's looking at.
i think it is impossible to see what is going to happen next. >> thank you. joining me now, a former congressman, mike rogers. he was an fbi agent before his career in congress. so your reaction, i want to focus on the firing of jim comey and michael flynn. >> two things. the flynn part wouldn't be the obstruction of justice. that steamed get muddied a little later in the conversation. normally a conversation like this such as the president would be the last person. what it tells me on the flynn piece, that xoopgs flynn has been giving to the special counsel likely netted some information of which they have a line of questioning to get
answered. it could be about the russian probe or activities in the white house. on the last piece of it, 95% of the time, that last subject, the last person you interview is the big get, if you will, in an investigation. that would tell me they're trying to wrap up this notion of russian collusion, if in fact they've asked. remember, there are discussions about how the administration would hand, if they were asked. that was all speculation at that point. if josh is right, that means there was some kind of a formal request for an interview. that's big news. that means they're wrapping up a piece of it. it doesn't mean it would be over and it doesn't do anything to all the side line investigations that are clearly ongoing. and every cooperating witness gives a level of information for those interviews that makes the investigators and the fbi guys salivate. and then all the interviews they
conducted are instructive. it doesn't mean they took anything away that leads them to salivate but it is how they cooperate with witness information. >> i want to get to the interview in a second. obviously trump has sent mixed messages with his willingness to participate. many. his friends are advising him not to do so. so talking about the firing of skm in the potential obstruction of justice category of this. you're saying the flynn thing could be related to something having to do with the trump team people and russians. >> it could. this would be all speculation. if you look at the alleges of the investigation so far, there are many who make the case that the president may not have known there were meetings taking place in his campaign. that's not unheard of.
with the flynn cooperation, webb remember, he was as close to sessions as anyone. there was a campaign national security team. he was a part of that. so that discussion would be a little bit different. and i think the value would be pretty significant. >> stick around. we're going to sneak in a quick break. stay with us. so, how's it going? well... we had a vacation early in our marriage that kinda put us in a hole. go someplace exotic? yeah, bermuda. a hospital in bermuda. a hospital in bermuda. what? what happened? i got a little over-confident on a moped.
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the "washington post" is reporting that mueller is seeking to question president trump in the coming weeks. 78% of the american people believe president trump should testify under oath before wi special counsel mueller. 5% of democrats saying that he shouldn't have to do it. back me, republican congressman -- >> i think you needed a poll for that. >> here's the big question.
president trump months ago said 100% of you willing to meet with mueller. the last time he hemmed and hawed. we have lots of friends and advisers saying don't do it. it's a trap. what do you think? >> if he and his inner circle are looking at this, and as an investigator you love a big personality to walk into the room. that's the best way to get somebody to say something they wouldn't normally say. >> because their egos are so big. >> it is their personality. they're used to being the biggest personality in the room. >> martha stewart. >> a great example of it. the legal world is not something they're used to dealing with. they think i've talked my way out of everything else. i can do it.
they think they can own it. so in this case, it would not surprise me if his lawyers and his associates and his adviseors are saying, don't do it. as a matter of fact, you can wait. you have work to do as president of the united states. should you wait on doing that interview. i think for the good of the country, they should work out a deal to have this done so we can put this behind us one way or the other. the whole mess, the optics for the fbi are not great right now. and the optics certainly for the president and the attorney general are not good. i would like to see all of this get settled so we can get about the business of what we do around the world. this is having that impact. i think the president has made this case before and i think he's right. listen, this is impacting my ability to perform the duties as president of the united states west need to get it done. i agree that he's right. postponing it? i think his advisers would say, postpone talking to the special counsel.
he's not obligated. i think the public is right. they want to see resolution and that would mean the president testifying. >> something in the news, the fbi director threatened to resign. the fbi's top lawyer james baker, president trump has obviously been attacking the fbi and attacking andrew mccabe specifically for a long, long time twitter. questioning his credibility in july 2017. the president wrote, why didn't the attorney general sessions replace andrew mccabe? what do you think of sessions trying to pressure write a to do there and wray saying you'll have to fire me first. >> i've asked several people and i can't confirm anyone said he was fired. why is this guy here or why is
he in this job? the optics are bad in this case. it doesn't mean he did anything wrong but the optics don't look good. and the attorney general who may be a witness on any russia probe was even considering having the conversation about moving a guy along. i think there were conversations and i think wray said leave my management to my fbi, to me. that doesn't mean mccabe was running the investigation. as director he has a responsibility as a lot of things. we just had a big china spy case. we have organized crime families doing really bad things in the city of new york. i guarantee you he's looking at those things. he's announce in the december that he would retire. i think in march. >> a couple more months. >> so none of this really jives with me. it sounds to me like somebody a
little wider than was in the room decided what they thought happened in that room. i'm not buying it yet. until the direct or comes out and says it happened. >> ron johnson released some new text messages. the fbi agent peter strock who has been reassigned. february 2016, the fbi lawyer said it is quote unbelievable that the race would come down to clinton versus trump. now the pressure really starts to finish mye. that appears to be mid year exam. what the fbi called the clinton investigation. in another exchange, strzok wrote about it.
and he said the timing looks like hell lflt appear to be choreographed. yet it is a real profile in courage since she knows no charges will be brought. this is being cited by republicans and supporters of president trump that the fix was in and the investigation stinks. >> again, the optics of this are really bad. and you have mccabe right praund same time frame who went to see mccullough. all of that looks bad. >> it doesn't mean the investigation was tainted. do i believe someone should review it. i argued oriole, the fbi should do this on their own. bring a group of independent thinkers. review the facts around all of these particular instances. it is starting to serve to diminish the credibility of the fbi.
we're watching in real-time the impeachment of a witness. so including fbi agents who take the stand in criminal cases, they use the old line of really, you're a special agent. is there any other special agent? are you the only -- everything they can do to impeach the credibility of that witness. you're seeing it happen in real life in the court of public opinion where everybody will go after the witnesses. did fbi has to get a handle on it. you have to be able to investigate any party in the country. >> let's turn back to my panel. let's talk about these text messages. in the campaign, i think it is fair to call it a campaign of attack go the fbi. what is your response?
>> look, i agree with the congressman that you want to project integrity from the fbi. but the material problem is the lost texts. and some of these things that we've seen and you have to address those. federal agencies can abuse power. the folks there can have an axe to grind and we should be concerned about it and we should be concerned about them lose go six months of text that's are really pertinent. mueller has said, look, one person had to be dismissed for bias. because of this, it is important to have that stuff. just as it is shady when trump covers stuff up. whether it is sloppy or intentional. >> and i remember before the election, rudolph giuliani went on fox news and talked about how there was a surprise coming. two days later comey announced he was reopening the case. and then basically giuliani said he had heard about it from former and current fbi officials
who later took back the current fbi officials about how it was a powder keg. and there was a lot of call by democrats into what did giuliani know? >> it goes to the point that chairman rogers makes. the fbi needs to get to the bottom of it. it needs to restore the confidence. i remember sitting in july. watching comey come out and talk about the clinton investigation and there were hems and haws. i think it is incouple the been to clear the air. everybody wants faith in the filibust fbi. >> i agree. it is the same thing. there are some bad actors.
and i agree. the fbi needs to get to the bottom of it. i'm not the only one. not the only democrat that believes in robert mueller. he has a solid reputation. so in the special counsel in that investigation, i trust in what robert mueller is doing. >> he is a patriot. >> let me finish. >> right. a vietnam veteran. and he dismiss that had one individual that seemed incredibly problematic. i agree. i have to say, i think what donald trump is doing is dangerous. the way he attacks the fbi. the way he asks for loyalty tests from comey. and now we see sessions doing that with wray. assuming that reporting is true. and that is incredibly problem attic and we should not see that. >> it is also increditably problematic to have a narrative that does not allow the questioning of someone like mule who i have confidence in.
but comey has been contradicted about these posts about when loretta lynch knew about the investigation. i have to assume he is not the only honest man in wash. clapper is another person. he has admitted to surveilling the american people. yet we're told that everything he says must be taken at face value and never questioned. so that hinders the credibility as well. >> is it true that no one cares about russia? >> no. i think people care about russia. i think they care, i care deeply about figuring out what they did so we can prevent in it 2018 and 2020. i think it matters. she is right that many people have things at the top of their head that are not this investigation. they're not mueller. they're not deep in the weeds about this.
and we're back with the politics lead as the "washington post" reports that robert mueller is looking to interview president trump. there are also some questions about whether there are some other staff changes in the horizon. m.j., the white house is defending one of the members, wi willber ross, whose fate has seemed up in the air. >> at least publicly they're defending wilber ross. saying there's nothing to see here. sarah sanders saying that president trump has full confidence in wilber and loves him and thinks he is doing a great job. there have been some
unflattering headlines about ross lately including a story in axios that said trump is unhappy with the secretary's handling of trade and this. that ross has been falling asleep in some meetings. one hill source says there's been talk of ross having fallen out of favor with the president and that could explain why we are suddenly seeing these embarrassing stories in the press. i was able to reach secretary ross yesterday very briefly on the phone. when i asked him about these headlines, he told me, quote, that's an obsolete story. look at the president's press release. should i say did he hang up the phone before could i ask him anything else. >> thanks very much. >> if you work for the white house, your fate is always up in the air. general mcmaster was asked
moments ago if he is staying in the job. >> i have a job and it is my intention to go as long and as hard as i can to serve the president and the nation. >> let me ask you if you're staying in your current job too. >> over here? [ laughter ] >> that's a yes. there were rumors that comey was on the outs after the charlottesville incident. and gary cohn wrote that he didn't think the president handled it very well. there have been a lot of staff turnover. >> yeah. unbelievably amount of staff members. i don't have the numbers with me. i don't know them off the top of my head but i worked in the white house. i worked in the white house for the first two years under the obama administration and it is tough. it is tough to work six, seven days a week. 12 plus hours a day. and you know, it is a tough job. i cannot imagine doing their
job, this job, being in the white house, under a president who can't stay off twitter. who says really bigoted, racist things. who is under a rush investigation. there's so much going on. i mean, hey, gary cohn said he was really upentity how trump handled charlottesville. i'm not up on the things that he says. >> there does seem to be a bit more stability it's since general kelly took over. after he fired everybody on his way in. >> look. i think they have a great staff. these are a-list players from general kelly on down. general mcmaster, gary cohn. wash is a place, if you don't have thick skin, you shouldn't look for a job. >> yesterday the white house defended the president's relationship with wilber ross saying the president has 100% confidence in the secretary. the question is, is that an endorsement or the kiss of
death? take a look. >> do we not have the sound ready? >> yes. >> first of all, sean spicer is a fine person. >> i thought dr. tom price, who is amaze go on health care and his knowledge. i thought did he a fantastic job. >> of course not long after, that flynn, spicer, price. when they say that president trump has 100% confidence in wilber ross, should he start packing his bags? >> no. we've reported on a lot of them that haven't taken place. i think it is part of who trump is and part of the white house. i think it is exhausting. and they have the added problem that they have not staffed up the federal government in some of these appointments the same way another administration would have. so they're running with a
skeleton crew to begin with. >> thank you so much. the president and chief of staff john kelly. this morning president tweeted, thank you to gentle john kelly who is doing a fantastic job and all the staff and others for a job well done. long hours and fake reporting makes the job more difficult. it is always great to win and few have won more than us. that seemed to be perhaps a response to an article in "vanity fair" that suggest that had president trump, that general kelly had fallen out of favor with president trump. >> i don't believe it to be true. the president loves the general. general kelly an american patriot. he is not going anywhere. >> besides the cabinet issue, let's turn to the next subject if we can. there is another issue, the trump administration is deal with. the left leaning good government group common cause is asking the zwroormt investigate a reported six figure ability. then candidate lawyer michael cohn made to a porn star just before the presidential
election. the group says it was noenlt influence the election and should have been considered a campaign contribution. this was reported at least twice by the "wall street journal" which is not known as a publication that has it out for president trump about this. if you saw evidence that there was a payment to stormy daniels, would you be concerned? >> the question is, is it a violation of campaign law? no. they can go back and look at the checks that didn't come from the campaign. it is not a violation. nothing to see here. move on. >> even if his business gave -- >> i think the american people, if elected this president, doesn't seem to bother them. who knows if it's true. the prus hasn't spoken to it. the vice president says he doesn't know anything about it. there's lots of room or and
innuen innuendo. >> there's weird story sexual fatigue. like people don't want to get into the details. >> i agree it is not campaign finance violation but this is a problem that a year ago, a lot of people would have had a problem with. >> a lot of talk about the campaign. the president got elected overwhelmingly. move on. >> that may be fair. one thing does seem straining in the story which is that the high level evangelicals supporters of president trump are really just shrugging about the story. franklin graham said he believes the president is a very different person than he was four or five years ago. family research council president tony perkins said this. >> you get a mulligan. a do-over again. they were tired of being kicked around by own obama and his leftists and i think they're finally glad that there's somebody on the play ground that is willing to punch the bully.
>> i get that president trump has the positions that evangelical conservatives support. i totally understand that. but i wonder, is there a credibility issue? that they at least say i don't know if it is true but if it is true, that's immoral behavior. as a leader in your faith, you lose some moral authority. but he is correct about the transaction at name that people of faith made, that they hired a bully to punch back for them. it wasn't addition that i made. >> you guys will probably be shocked. i think this is something between donald trump and melania. it looks like it was consensual. they need figure it out. what i care more about is the 19 women who came out in 2016 and said that donald trump either harassed them, sexually harassed
they will or sexually assaulted them. the stories of him walking through teenage pageants through the locker room while they were naked. that's more what i'm concerned about. throws true harassment and assault charges that we should be talking about. >> let me ask you. do you think the trump presidency is putting an end to any scandals involve consensual sexual relationships? are we into territory that now tony perkins and franklin graham no longer can comment on that? if candidate smith in the future is a candidate that has a relationship with a porn star and pats her money. i'm sorry. you can't talk about that. >> you heard what franklin graham said. i know this president. i believe him to be a different person than four or five or seven years ago. each person takes measure of a man. that's what dr. graham did and some of other individuals did.
i can't comment if it is going to be a trend but i can say that tony perkins and dr. graham's comments said he is someone different than he was back then and move forward. >> i wonder if what's happening now is similar to what happened with feminist leaders in the bill clinton administration. >> that's part of the calculation. many conservatives feel like, we had a fight over whether character mattered in this way and the verdict was resoundingly that it did not and clinton remains one of our most popular presidents. so we're going to play on the same field. and i think they lose some moral authority in some of the ways they talk about it. redemption is real. the way they talk about it throws me off but tinlds calculation that was made. and it ganl with some of the clinton stuff. >> it there are huge issues on the table. we're talking about, still we have a very, very dangerous situation in north korea. a very aggressive russian state. we have a lot of big things we need on deal with as a presidency and i think americans
are worried about those. >> got it. thank you one and all for being here. be sure to follow me on facebook and twitter. you can tweet to me. thanks for watching. happening now, breaking news closing in. the russia probe closes in on the inner circle of robert mueller is seeking to talk to the president in the coming weeks. this as cnn learned he's met with the attorney general jeff sessions and the fired fbi director jim comey stflt russia investigation now heating up? threatening to quit. president trump deny that's his hand picked fbi director christopher wray threatened to quit because of pressure from the attorney general. as the fbi comes